Rights and Recourses: Addressing Sudden Hearing Loss in the Armed Forces

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Rights and Recourses: Addressing Sudden Hearing Loss in the Armed Forces

Sudden hearing loss is an urgent medical concern in the armed forces as it presents challenges on both a personal and professional level. As a serving member of the armed forces, you need to be well-versed in your rights concerning this health issue. 

This guide will help you understand more about sudden hearing loss, its potential impact on your service, your entitlements in terms of compensation and the possibilities for continued work within the army. Understanding these aspects is vital to navigating sudden hearing loss effectively and upholding your rights in the armed forces.

Here, JMW Solicitors takes a look at your rights after losing your hearing in the armed forces. 

Recognising Sudden Hearing Loss

Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL), or sudden hearing loss, is a rapid loss of hearing, typically in one ear, which can occur instantly or over a few days. Symptoms are often first noticed upon waking up. Some people might also experience a loud 'pop' just before their hearing disappears, or have accompanying symptoms such as dizziness or tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing noise in the affected ear.

The ability to recognise sudden hearing loss is essential - while this may be easier in more severe cases, subtle hearing loss may be harder to detect, but will likely still have an effect on your life. The issue often presents as an inability to hear conversations at regular volumes, or a sudden difficulty in understanding speech on the telephone, which typically uses one ear. Environmental sounds may also appear lower in volume or muffled.

Importantly, sudden hearing loss is a medical emergency - immediate medical attention is critical to prevent permanent damage. If you experience any symptoms of SSHL, it is imperative to seek urgent medical care. You should contact the Defence Medical Services or your GP without delay. Early treatment significantly improves the chances of recovery, underlining the importance of rapid response if you suspect you may be experiencing this condition.

Implications for Individuals with Hearing Loss in the Armed Forces

Sudden hearing loss in the armed forces can have profound implications. On a personal level, it can lead to difficulties in communication, reduced situational awareness, and potential impact on mental wellbeing due to the sudden change in health status.

Professionally, sudden hearing loss may affect your ability to perform your duties effectively, particularly in roles where acute hearing is critical. It could necessitate modifications in your responsibilities or, in certain cases, reassignment to a different role.

However, it is important to note that the army has a robust duty of care towards its personnel. If your hearing loss has been caused or exacerbated by your service, your military employer is obliged to ensure you receive appropriate medical attention and support. This includes access to audiology services for diagnosis and management, and potential rehabilitation support.

When addressing your issue, your employer should also be committed to considering your unique case, focusing on your capabilities rather than limitations. Even with hearing loss, many people can continue their military service, with adjustments made to ensure their roles align with their current health status. The objective is to safeguard your welfare while ensuring you can contribute effectively to your team.

Continued Service and Employment 

Despite experiencing sudden hearing loss, you may be able to continue serving in the armed forces, provided you are medically fit to do so. The medical board will assess your condition and the impact on your ability to fulfil your duties. If you are deemed fit, with the necessary adjustments, you will be able to continue your role. However, this will be dependent on your specific duties and the severity of the hearing loss.

If you are unable to continue in your current role, there are likely other opportunities for redeployment within the army more suited to your needs and capabilities. These opportunities aim to utilise your skills and experience in roles that are less reliant on acute hearing.

You should also be aware that your rights as a serving military staff member with hearing loss are protected by The Equality Act 2010. This act legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace, ensuring you have the right to equal treatment and opportunities. It stipulates that employers must make 'reasonable adjustments' for disabled employees, including those with hearing loss. In the context of the armed forces, these adjustments might include modified duties, provision of necessary equipment like hearing aids, or additional support to enable you to perform effectively in your role.


Suffering sudden hearing loss during your service in the armed forces can be daunting, but it is important to understand that you are entitled to seek compensation for your loss. This is where the expertise of personal injury solicitors - such as those at at JMW Solicitors - becomes invaluable.

We have a deep understanding of the legal landscape surrounding injuries incurred during military service. Our dedicated solicitors can help you navigate the complexity of the claims process, providing expert advice and support tailored to your specific situation.

Our team will help determine your eligibility for a claim. This includes establishing whether your hearing loss is a direct result of your service and that the claim is lodged within the specified timeframe: within seven years of the incident causing the hearing loss, or within three years of realising it was caused by service.

Filing a claim is a detailed process and involves collecting relevant medical evidence from service and civilian medical providers to corroborate your case. With the professional guidance of JMW Solicitors, you can pursue your rightful claim confidently, ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.

Talk to Us

For more information on how the JMW can help you to claim compensation for hearing loss, call us today on 0345 872 6666, or fill out an online contact form and we will return your call at a time convenient for you.

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